Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year 2015!

I can't believe it's New Year's Eve!
I woke up this morning thinking I need to start on some fun craft
activities with the girls, to prepare for our celebration.

I pulled out my craft box and found beads, bells, pipe cleaners,
pencils, and New Year's toys saved from last year.

 To make the sparkly crown, you need four pipe cleaners and
some beads.  Twist two pipe cleaners together for the base of the crown.
Thread colorful beads through the remaining two pipe cleaners,
and twist them around the base and make loops.
Have fun with this, and create your own design. You can't go wrong.

My girls and I are calling this a noise-maker wishing wand.
It's easier to manage if you thread the bells and beads first, and then
bend the pipe cleaner into a star shape - or any fun shape you wish.

Tape the end of the star to the pencil top.  Twist another pipe cleaner 
around the pencil to cover the taped pipe cleaner base.

Goody bags are nice to have.
I filled a zip-lock sandwich bag with a noise-maker, 
horn, bell necklace, and bracelet.

We are ready for tonight, and had lots of fun this afternoon with the crafts. 
I love my daughter's "fireworks" crown.

Have a happy and safe New Year's celebration.
May this be your best year yet!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Holiday Love!

Wishing a holiday filled with....

Have the happiest of holidays
filled with love and laughter! -  Chiêu

Speaking of laughter...
My girls think my cupcakes are topped with
a spinach frosting in disguise.

It's actually white mousse with green
chocolate flecks.  I was going for a minty look.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Books and Smiles for Haiti

Over the past few summers, I donated copies of my books to 
Life Connection Mission, a non-profit organization serving the poorest
children in the Western Hemisphere.  
It was very heart warming to see the happy faces from the pictures,
and hear about how the children enjoyed having the books.

Last fall, I started the program Books and Smiles for Haiti,
 and invited authors, illustrators, and our children's book community to
join me in sending more books to Haiti.  The responses were overwhelming, 
and the books were distributed to the children this summer.  

Some books were given to the homeless shelter; many to the preschool,
1st grade teachers, and church supported by Life Connection Mission,
to be shared with the community's children.

On one special occasion, children were invited for dinner with the goal of taking
pictures to encourage people back here in the U.S. to sponsor them,
and help send them to school.  The children received small gifts, 
and the younger ones were given picture books.  I was thrilled to have the
opportunity to sponsor a little girl close to my youngest daughter's age.

I am thankful for the generosity and kindness of our contributors, 
Life Connection Mission, and the amazing people who spent their summer
in Haiti for their endless hard work and dedication.

Thank you Life Connection Mission, for sharing these wonderful photos.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Summer Frozen Party!

Ever since Frozen hit the big screen, it's been a favorite "everything" with
my daughter.  The songs, books, dolls, clothes - you get the picture.  
It was no surprise she asked for a Frozen birthday celebration, and after a long 
winter this year, snowflakes were the last thing I wanted to think about.

Voila!  A Frozen party without a single snowflake!
Instead of a snow garnished cake, I went with magical wintry breeze cupcakes.

I melted and piped white chocolate swirls and embellished them
with clear sugar sprinkles for an icy effect.  

Making these treats was fun!  
The girls loved the Frozen ring that topped the blue frosting.

The party wand favors were a hit, and easy to make.
  I hot-glued tulle pom-poms to the bottom of clear plastic tubes with a white 
fluffy pom in the center.  Fill the wands with blue and white Sixlets candies 
and attach a Frozen ring to each of them; they snap on perfectly.  
The cap of the wand should be on the bottom for easy access to the candy.  

To make the pom-poms, wrap two shades of tulle around your hand
about 7 - 9 times, and tie the center.  Cut the loops and fluff them. 
You can find great tulle pom-pom tutorials on youtube.

I couldn't resist including summer fun party favors too, 
perfect for boys.  Fill small beach buckets with colorful chalk, 
bubbles, and shovels.  I printed and attached this Olaf picture from
the Disney website.  My daughter loved her summer Frozen birthday, 
and we are looking forward to catch Frozen on Broadway!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

Wishing you a wonderful and relaxing Fourth of July celebration!

One of my favorite things to for the holidays is baking,
and I love having a pretty platter of sweets.  Here is a delicious dessert
menu that is fun and easy to bake with the kids.
Strawberry Napoleons, blueberry cheesecake, chocolate mousse bites,
Jello jigglers, peach cobbler, and raspberry chocolate mousse cups.

The recipes are simple to prepare.  Serve them in individual parfait
glasses for an attractive dessert platter.
Pepperidge Farm® Strawberry Napoleon Recipe
William Sonoma® Chocolate Mousse Recipe
(fill the mousse into chocolate cups and glass dishes) 
Martha Stewart® Peach Crumble Recipe
(garnish with whip cream)

Cheesecake Bites
1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups of cold milk
1 (3.4 oz) package of vanilla pudding
1 1/2 cups of whipped cream
Beat the cream cheese in a mixer and gradually mix in the milk.
Add dry pudding mix and mix well.  Fold in the whipping cream.

Graham cracker crust:
1 1/2 cups of finely ground graham crackers
5 tbl melted butter
1/4 cup sugar and a dash of salt
Combine all ingredients and press 2 tbls of mixture into cupcake molds.
Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown (about 6-10 minutes).
Remove crust from pan and pipe the cheesecake mixture
onto the cooled graham cracker crusts.

4th of July Jello™  Jigglers
Step 1: Prepare the red layer and combine two 6 oz boxes of red jello
with two and a half cups of boiling water.  Stir until dissolved and pour
into greased 9x13 dish.  I sprayed the dish with a light layer of PAM oil.
Place the jello in the refrigerator until it sets, about 20 minutes.

Step 2: To make the white layer, dissolve two envelopes of unflavored
gelatin with a quarter cup of boiling water.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl,
mix a can of condensed milk with a cup of boiling water.  
Add the gelatin mixture into the creamy mixture, and stir in another 
half a cup of boiling water.  Pour the white jello mixture onto the
set blue layer, and allow the jello to completely set in the refrigerator. 

Repeat Step 1 with blue jello mix to prepare the blue layer,
and allow the jello to completely chill before cutting.